Her Life In 4 Paws

Hello! My name is Samantha Maruschak. I have been a very close friend of Sinead’s for over three years. In that time, I have seen Sinead at her absolute best and worst.

Back in 2015, Sinead decided to pursue having a service dog named, Paddington trained to assist her and do things most modern medicine has failed to do for her thus far. Due to unforeseen and extremely unfortunate circumstances, Paddington is now forced to retire due to his own health issues, including the recent development of seizures. Her family and I are devastated and deeply concerned about how this loss will affect Sinead’s health. This is why I am appealing to you for assistance with the significant costs of acquiring a life-saving service dog for, Sinead.


Sinead lives with an extremely rare, life-threatening and progressive condition called Parkes Weber Syndrome (PKWS)

Parkes Weber Syndrome is an exceptionally rare complex, congenital vascular condition that impacts the vascular, muscular, lymphatic and skeletal systems and greatly impacts the everyday lives of those who are affected. It is so rare that it affects less than 800 people worldwide.

Since PKWS is so rare there is very little focus and interest from the medical community to invest in research, which means treatment is mostly focused on reacting to complications as they arise and on a case by case basis.  

Serious infections, requiring IV treatment for a minimum of two weeks, are a common occurrence for Sinead. She also experiences both internal and external bleeds due to arterial venous malformations. These bleeds can lead to her needing to be rushed to hospital to get them under control. They can happen spontaneously and may even occur in her sleep without her being aware. She is also at constant risk of life-threatening blood clots in her deep veins and lungs and suffers from heart complications such as tachycardia which cause her to have regular episodes of dizziness, severe chest pain and syncope. Long term, she is also at risk of developing of high output heart failure. As a result of the lymphedema on the entire right side of her body, the leg length discrepancy due to bone overgrowth, as well as muscle overgrowth that often leads to episodes of spasticity, Sinead lives with severe chronic pain and limited mobility on a daily basis.

While the realities of her daily struggles are overwhelming, the assistance of a service dog has proven to be an invaluable and essential part of her care.

Without a new service dog, Sinead’s future is very uncertain. We are concerned it will lead to a decline her health, more hospital stays and that she will be unable to live an independent and meaningful life.

•Retrieve medical supplies/ medication when she is bleeding or immobile and/or using her wheelchair

• Provide balance support

•Find help for Sinead from a family member or member of the public in case of a life-threatening emergency

•Assist with activities of daily living. Such activities include, but are not limited to assisting with laundry and getting dressed

• Alert Sinead to bleeds, blood clots, heart arrhythmia and episodes of syncope

•Wake her in the event of an emergency

•Pick up dropped items

•Provide a physical barrier between her leg and the public to help prevent injury

•Provide support, and a greater sense of security when alone as the dog could help her through a medical emergency

•Help her navigate public spaces

•Guide her to an exit or to safety

Unfortunately, there is NO government funding for service dogs and due to the rarity of her condition, there is not a non-profit service dog organisation capable of training a service dog to accommodate her complex needs or willing to provide funding. 

Her family have been in contact with MSAR - Service Dogs  in Winnipeg, Manitoba to take on the task of training a one of a kind service dog for Sinead. After much discussion with them regarding her needs, they determined, this dog would have to be a one of a kind dog trained to be a combination of a mobility, PTSD, and a medical alert & response dog; however this dog will come at a cost of $35, 000 and we have until April 2022 to raise this money and pay for the dog.

Sinead is always the first to help others, be that with their own gofundme campaigns, providing resources to others, volunteering with different charities and organisations or just offering to do whatever she can to help.  I know this new service dog will allow Sinead to lead a more "normal",  independent  and happy life and will allow her to continue to give back to her community and participate in causes she cares deeply about.

For more information about MSAR-Service Dogs please go to http://msar.ca/ 

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Fundraising team: Her Life In 4 Paws (3)

Samantha Gleeson 
Calgary, AB
Sinéad Ellis 
Kayla Wozniak 
Team member